Salisbury poisoning agents 'linked to Czech blast'

Politics and EconomicsTOP NEWSPrague to Discuss Vrbětice Explosion Case With EU Counterparts on Mondayby Prague Morning

Politics and EconomicsTOP NEWSPrague to Discuss Vrbětice Explosion Case With EU Counterparts on Mondayby Prague Morning

The dramatic accusations have nearly instantly threatened to destabilize the relationship between Russian Federation and the Czech Republic, which broke away from the Soviet Union in 1989.

In a press conference on Saturday evening Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said the government suspected the Russian military intelligence service, the GRU, had been involved in the explosion.

The 18 expelled Russian embassy personnel had been identified by Czech intelligence as members of Russia's GRU and SVR intelligence services.

"The Czech Republic is a sovereign state and has to respond to the unprecedented findings [of the investigation] appropriately", Mr Babis added.

Separately, Czech police said they were searching for two men in connection with serious criminal activity who were carrying Russian passports in the names of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, and that the men were in the country in the days leading up to the 2014 explosion.

Babiš said he had spoken about the case with the European Council President Charles Michel and would inform EU partners in detail at the next formal leaders' summit, scheduled for late June. "We appreciate their significant action to impose costs on Russian Federation for its risky actions on Czech soil".

"We are in a situation similar to that in Britain following the attempted poisoning in Salisbury in 2018", Czech Interior Minister and Foreign Minister Jan Hamáček said when announcing the results of the investigation on Saturday night. The United States imposed sanctions against Russian Federation this week for interfering in last year's USA election, cyber hacking, bullying Ukraine and other alleged malign actions, prompting Moscow to retaliate.

These are the names used by two Russian intelligence officers the United Kingdom says carried out the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter using the nerve agent Novichok in Salisbury in 2018.

Col. Mgr. Jaroslav Ibehej of the NCOZ issued the notice for the two men who were first using Russian passports with the names Alexander Petrov, born on July 13, 1979 and Ruslan Boshirov, born April 12, 1978.

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